New York Times By the Book tag

The New York Times “By the Book” questionnaire is a recurring column in the paper answered by well-known creatives – actors, writers, artists, etc. It’s also a common tag on blogs written and hosted by book lovers.

Basically, it’s a fun way for book lovers to talk about books.

1. What book is on your nightstand now? A History of God by Karen Armstrong, 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis, Quiet by Susan Cain, The Book of Common Prayer

2. What was the last truly great book that you read? The Secret History by Donna Tartt

3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know? I would love to have a meal with Ken Follett so I could pick his brain about the writing process. This would be risky because people you admire could always turn out to be jerks. Fingers crossed he’d be delightful.

4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves? Stupid Black Men by Larry Elder. It was given to me and I haven’t read it yet, but the title is jarring and lends itself to all sorts of assumptions. Larry Elder is an African-American Libertarian who shares many of the same ideas about government as I do. One day I’ll read the book, perhaps sooner than later, but the title alone might give a person pause and wonder what sort of person I am. (However, if you know me personally, then you know what kind of person I am.)

5. How do you organize your personal library? My collection is currently organized chromatically. I find that a color-coded shelving system is aesthetically pleasing. Plus, it’s not hard to find a book this way since my memory of cover design is pretty good. The Circle is red, Astonish Me is yellow, The Art of Fielding is blue, and so on.

Color coded bookshelves

6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read? I haven’t gotten around to reading The Cider House Rules yet, even though it’s been on my To Read list for ages. I’m not embarrassed about it, but I’ve seen the movie, and this might be the reason I haven’t picked it up yet. (The Cider House Rules is pale yellow, by the way. Almost beige.) I am completely embarrassed to admit that I read the entire Twilight series. My only excuse is that I was depressed at the time so maybe I didn’t know what I was doing. 2009 was a rough year.

7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing? Easy answer – The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I expected to love it, but alas, I didn’t love it. I didn’t finish it, didn’t care that I didn’t finish it, and subsequently traded it in at a local used bookstore. I recently put down A History of God, which I started reading during Lent, but it is dense and not the kind of book I can digest in a series of days or weeks. I’ll eventually finish it, but not right now.

8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of? The books I’m drawn to depend on my mood. Sometimes I want a story with strong character development (May We Be Forgiven, The Light Between Oceans, She’s Come Undone) while other times I want something that’s plot-driven and keeps me on the edge of my seat (Night Film, You, anything by Tana French). Sometimes I want to time travel and settle in for a long piece of historical fiction. The only things I stay clear of fall under the umbrella of science fiction and fantasy. When I had to read Dune for graduate school, I nearly died of boredom.

9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? One Second After by William Forstchen

10. What do you plan to read next? Once I finish Special Topics in Calamity Physics, I’ll finally tackle The Girl on the Train. 

I tag YOU, Annette. 

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